Mount Zion and Surroundings Walking Tour (Self Guided), Jerusalem

Mount Zion, as many other places in Jerusalem, is a biblical site. This name was mentioned in manuscripts dating back to the first millennium BC. It was called the Town of David and David s tomb is here. This self-guided tour will lead you to the biblical sites of Mount Zion and other modern attractions in its surroundings.
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Mount Zion and Surroundings Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Mount Zion and Surroundings Walking Tour
Guide Location: Israel » Jerusalem (See other walking tours in Jerusalem)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: vickyc
St. Peter's Church in Gallicantu

1) St. Peter's Church in Gallicantu (must see)

The Church of St. Peter in Gallincantu is named for the famous disciple’s rejection of Jesus Christ, as told in Mark 14:30. The term “Gallincantu” is Latin for cock-crow. This place is located outside the Old City of Jerusalem on the eastern slope of Mount Zion. It was originally the site of a Byzantine shrine that was built in 457. It was sadly destroyed, and a chapel was then built on the site by the Crusaders in 1102. That rebuild was destroyed, and in 1931, the Church was rebuilt as it stands today. Fittingly, a rooster is on one of the roof peaks. There is some thought that the High Priest Caiaphas may have had his palace here.

The church is in a beautiful spot and the landscape drops off sharply toward the Kidron Valley. Make sure to allow extra time just to wander the grounds and enjoy the spectacular view. You can also find the ruins of many centuries worth of buildings that have been erected in this spot in Jerusalem. In fact, the north side of the building has a model set up to show what the city might have looked like during the Byzantine era. There are a set of steps that may be the original passageway between the upper and lower city. Sculptures and reliefs are around the grounds too that depict scenes from the life of Jesus Christ and also the denial by Peter.

The inside of the church is beautiful with several mosaics and paintings. There is a lower level that also has a chapel and a series of caves. Evidence exists that these were once part of a Byzantine shrine. Traditionally, it is thought to be where Jesus was held after His arrest. However, these types of cavernous structures were normal in the houses of the period. So while he may have been held here, it is not certain.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8:30am-5pm
Free entry
Sight description based on wikipedia
Zion Gate

2) Zion Gate

This famous location also goes by the name of Shaar Zion, or Bab Sahyun. The locals also call it the "Jewish Quarter Gate. It is one of eight gates that were built into the walls of the Old City.

It is built into the south side of the wall, facing Mount Zion and Hebron. As the Arab name for this structure implies, it leads directly into the Armenian and Jewish Quarters. It is also sometimes called David's Gate. And if the legends are true about the famous king being buried on Mt. Zion, then the name fits well.

The famous southern gate constructed by order of Suleiman the Magnificent. It was built circa 1540. During the 19th century, the location became famous as a gathering place of lepers. In 1948, some of the underground forces of the Jewish people repatriated the Jewish Quarter by means of this opening into the town. The stones in the walls and homes here are chipped from the battle. The holes made during the conflict are still visible today. When the last of the British troops left Jerusalem on May 13, 1948, Mordechai Weingarten was presented with a key to the gate. Up until this time, Jordan controlled the location.

In current times, pedestrians and cars of all kinds use the opening, although getting a vehicle through the L shaped opening is almost impossible. Today, it is a one way road, only leading into the city, because two way traffic simply became too dangerous.
King David's Tomb

3) King David's Tomb (must see)

King David’s Tomb is located in Jerusalem on Mount Zion. Although there is serious doubt as to whether this is the actual burial place of King David, the site is still worthy of a visit. This site has been held by Christians, Muslims and Jews over the years, each with claims on the area.

Currently, the Tomb is in Jewish control, and parts are open for public visitation. The entrance is from a church that the Crusaders built during the 12th century. There is beautiful tile work in this first antechamber and the patchwork was done to match the repairs to the Dome of the Rock during the 1500s. In the second antechamber is a mihrab dating from the 1400s when the area was under Muslim control. This room also has wonderful tile work.

The Tomb is also called a cenotaph and this area can be viewed from behind an iron grate in the second antechamber. The original tomb was removed and placed in a stone sarcophagus that was built to encase the tomb. There is no knowledge whether there are any remains in there. An embroidered blue cloth that dates probably from the 1500s covers the sarcophagus. This sits in a niche that is dated from around the 4th century. The black on the walls is from various fighting for this area and also from the candles that have been lit for religious purposes.

Entrance into King David’s Tomb is free; men should have their heads covered. Modest dress is advised.

Why You Should Visit:
King David is an essential part of Jewish identity. At his tomb, you realize that, in a way, he is still alive.

You can take pictures (but try not to upset the people praying).
Be sure to be appropriately covered if you are a woman.
Dormition Abbey

4) Dormition Abbey (must see)

Dormition Abbey is built upon the site that traditionally is thought to be where the Blessed Virgin Mary died. It was constructed in the early 1900s as a German Benedictine Abbey on top of Mount Zion, just outside of the city walls at the Zion Gate. It sits atop a Byzantine church that lay in ruins called Hagia-Maria-Scion and sometimes the abbey is known by that name.

The Byzantine Church was built by Christians several hundred years after the death of Jesus. It was destroyed, and several centuries later the Crusaders rebuilt the structure. It was again destroyed and remained in ruins until the land was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II, who commissioned the building. The Abbey also includes a beautiful large round sanctuary and a large bell tower. The top of the place has a rooster on the weather vane to symbolize Peter’s denial of Jesus. This place is called Dormitio Beatae Mariae Virginis or Holy Sleep of the Virgin Mary. It was damaged during the 1948 war and was restored again after the 6-day war. The name Dormition is an old word that means “falling asleep” or death and the resurrection to heaven.

The inside of the church are six alcoves or small chapels that have incredible mosaic work depicting the life of Mary and Jesus. There is a crypt in the lower level that holds the sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s deathbed. Visitors can light candles at this location. Chapels and alters have been donated from around the world and make the tour of the church just breathtaking.

It is free to get in the Dormition Abbey. Hours vary, so check before going.

Make sure to use their 3-shekel bathroom to see the ruins they have there with an explanation!
Also, the attached coffee shop is a real haven in the maze complex of the Old City.
Sultan’s Pool Amphitheater

5) Sultan’s Pool Amphitheater

The Sultan’s Pool amphitheater is a venue for music of all types. When the weather is warm, evening concerts are common here and they might include international pop stars, classical music or multimedia events. Like the rest of Jerusalem, this area is a fascinating combination of centuries of different uses and control of the land.

The Sultan’s Pool is located in the Valley of Hinnom where the Old city of Jerusalem stood. The valley gets its name from children sacrifices to pagan gods is centuries past. The practice was stopped and this area was then a place to burn the city garbage. Both these acts gave the valley the Hebrew name for hell (GeiHannom).

An amphitheater and pool were built here during the reign of Herod. The pool was connected to the city by an aqueduct to provide water. The aqueduct was modernized by Suleiman the Magnificent during his reign in the 16th century. Parts of the ancient aqueduct are still visible along with the pool walls.

All this makes for a magnificent place to hold an outdoor event. The walls of the Old City and the Tower of David provide an amazing backdrop to any event here.
St. Andrew's Scots Memorial Church

6) St. Andrew's Scots Memorial Church (must see)

St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland was built on a hill southwest of the Mount of Olives as a memorial to the Scottish soldiers who fought and died in this area during World War I. The money for the church was raised throughout Britain for the project, and it is part of the official religious institution for the country. There used to be a fair number of Scotts living in the area, but that changed after the 6-Day War. There are still signs of the shelling the building took during that battle. The guest house here can be reserved for visitors on their website.

The name Andrew commemorates one of the twelve disciples of Jesus and the patron Saint of Scotland. King Robert the Bruce (1306-1329) wanted his heart to be buried in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, that was not to be, but there is a small plaque commemorating the famous Scotsman.

This area used to be a Necropolis. There are ancient tombs here that date back to 1000 B.C. The building looks like it could have been a Scottish castle. Below the Church is an area that was used as a Scottish hospital. It now houses craftsmen of Jerusalem and is called the House of Quality.

While visiting the Church, be sure to take a look at all the Armenian blue ceramics. They are found in various fountains, as well as under the stairwell. The blues are just breathtakingly beautiful. Mosaic ceramics and tile work are also found throughout the place. One more interesting fact, the hill the sanctuary is located on is the water divide. The rain that falls on the western side of the area goes to the Mediterranean Sea, while water on the eastern side goes into the Dead Sea.

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